Questions, Resources and Suggestions for School Librarians
Questions for Proactive School Librarians
- Does the school library have a selection policy?
- Is the school library policy in compliance with the district policy?
- Does the policy identify who should be contacted for challenges?
- Is the school community involved the selection process?
- Do you know exactly why you have purchased controversial materials?
- Do you know the community that your school is in?
- Do you understand your students' needs and wants?
- Have you educated your school about intellectual freedom?
- Is your selection policy readily available or easy to access?
- Do you have a committee in place for challenges?
Selection Policy Components (Mardis, 2016, p. 58-64)
Statement of Philosophy
School mission and Goals
- ALA Library Bill of Rights
- ALA Freedom to Read Statement
Rationale for collection
- May include reference to the purpose of collecting controversial materials
What should be achieved with collection
Responsibility for Selection
School board legally responsible
- School librarian as a delegate
- Role of each stakeholder in school community
- Gathering input
- Committee vs. School librarian (ultimate decision)
- General criteria related to district and/or school goals
- Criteria for formats (including equipment and electronic formats)
Specific statements about acceptance and rejections
Include currency statement
Include restrictions and conditions statement
Provision of letters and receipts
Controversial Material Policy
Support for the First Amendment & Intellectual Freedom
Tips for Responding to Challenges (Bucher & Hinton, 2014)
- Listen and respond.
- Be professional.
- Avoid judgement.
- Work quickly.
- Try to keep it informal.
- Follow procedures.
- Read the materials.
- Inform administrators immediately.
- Work with committee.
- Document the process.
- Communicate in writing.
- Know support systems.
- Report the challenge.
- Be transparent.
American Library Association. (2016). Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10
Bucher, K. T., & Hinton, K. V. (2014). Young adult literature: Exploration, evaluation, and appreciation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Mardis, M. (2016). The collection program in schools: Concepts and practices. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.